Help with choosing the right DSLR camera.

January 29, 2013

DSLR cameras are becoming a part of the main stream of photography, mainly due to their cost and size. At holiday time some were prices below $500 making them extremely affordable.  Many manufactures have introduced units that are extremely light weight and easy to use.

You may want to consider the newest additions to this market:  the “micro 4/3” and “aps” sized sensor cameras. These are even smaller and have lots of features to boot.

Regardless of your decision below are several items to consider when making your choice:

  • Sensor Size: Generally the larger the size the sharper the image and less noise. Again…if you don’t need it don’t spend money getting it (more).
  • Sensor Megapixel rating:  The choices are extreme…from about 12 MP all the way up to 36 MP. It all depends on a few things. How big you want to “blow” up your images or how much cropping you may want to do. More is not always better. The larger the MP…the larger the file.
  • Speed: Some camera shoot at 3 frames per second and others up to 12. The higher ones are general used for sports. An average is about 4 to 5 and is generally more than enough.
  • Manual controls: If you are interested in the finer aspects of photography like HDR, Bracketing or Exposure compensation…this is a must. If you don’t’ know what these are…you probably don’t need them.
  • Optics Quality: In a simple terms…the better the lens the better the image. Lenses can last a life time. Many cameras come with “kit” lenses…My personal opinion is … you get what you pay for. If you are not blowing up images larger than a 5x7…it will probably do fine…anything above this …get a better lens!
  • Form factor: If you like the small thin design of the non-DSLR types….enjoy it. If you put it in your hands and it feels good…that is a good reason to buy it. I’m a firm believer in this!
  • Video: The newer camera can actually replace your current video camera. Many of these newer cameras can shoot video in full High Definition modes. 1080p is best…but if it’s only 720p you probably can’t see the difference. Get at least 720 of you plan on using it for a video camera too.
  • $$$$$: Determine your budget and tell your sales person…it will save everyone time. Why???…at our stores we ask lots of questions regarding the features…but if they are not in your budget we need to know!
  • Zooms: What will you are using the camera for. If it’s for travel and landscapes you will probably want a wide to medium telephoto lens…if it’s for portraits and sports you might want to consider a second lens or a lens that has a wide angle to a telephoto zoom.
  • Last: It’s all about you…if the sales person is not asking you lots of questions and finding out what you want and need, you should reconsider where you. Your needs and want are crucial to the proper choice of a camera.

I've been involved in photography for over 40 years and the above items are a general view of how to make a decision on your next camera purchase. - Stephen Weiss, President Creve Coeur Camera